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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Fall 2005

ANT 384M • Social Inequality in Mesoamerica

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28735 M
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
EPS 1.128

Course Description

In this course we will examine social inequality in Mesoamerica from the Formative period and into the Spanish colonial period. We will focus on issues related to social class, race, gender, and sex, and how these intersect to create, sustain, or transform social inequality in different time periods. This is an archaeology course, but we will also draw heavily from history, art history, and anthropology.

We will begin by formulating definitions of the four main kinds of social inequality that we will focus on for the rest of the semester: class, race, gender, and sex. What are these categories? Can we find them in the archaeological record? How do societies use them to create powerful distinctions between people? The beginning of the semester will be mostly theoretical, but we will soon apply this theory to specific case-studies in Mesoamerica. We will then study cultural ecological models of the rise of social complexity in the Formative period to dissect the particular visions of the relationship between social classes that these models share. We will proceed to contrast these models with post-processual models that focus on gender, sex, and human agency to explain social complexity and provide a very different vision of how social classes relate to one another. Other topics will include Classic period relationships among elites and between elites and commoners, strategies for emphasizing or euphemizing sex and gender in the construction of social inequality in different time periods, archaeological indicators of class distinctions, the relationship between material culture and the construction of social inequality, and methodological problems with the study of sex and gender in prehistory. The course will end by looking at issues of race in the colonial period, the caste life, and how race, class, and gender intersected to support or break down power.


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